The Lark - Santa Barbara

4.6
2266 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary American
The Lark pays homage to the history of California train travel and tributes the treasured and long gone Santa Barbara Fish Market, built in the 1920’s as a commercial fish processing plant, shipping their seafood products throughout the state by rail. With an imaginative yet approachable menu created by the gifted Jason Paluska, The Lark celebrates everything found around Santa Barbara County – wineries, farms, ocean and natural beauty. The stunning design strives to connect to the past and the future, using discovered objects from the past and blending them with modern, urban and industrial materials to spectacular effect.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Contemporary American, Tapas / Small Plates, American
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Hours of operation
Dinner:
5:00 p.m. - Closing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Late Night Bar Menu available
CLOSED MONDAY
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Phone number
(805) 284-0370
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Smart Casual
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Executive chef
Jason Paluska
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Neighborhood
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Parking details
Complimentary valet parking available or use nearby street parking. Substantial parking is available at the Santa Barbara train station, just a block away.
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Public transit
Enjoy a train ride to Santa Barbara from southern or northern California and meet us at The Lark. No driving required.
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Special events & promotions
Contact our Private Event Manager at 805-705-8895 or email Aran Klingensmith at aran@acmehospitality.com
Additional
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 2266 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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OT
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food and atmosphere. Even though it was very busy we still had attentive service.

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OT
Orange County
3 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Easily, the best place to eat in the city

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OT
Palm Springs
2 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a reso, quick seating, excellent service and food. Only note would be for the servers to speak up because it’s rather loud

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S
New York Area
27 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is our third trip here and every time love it more

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TC
New York Area
9 reviews
Dined on November 12, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 3

Very disappointing food. The menue did't offer a lot of choice and the food was too confused - a chef trying to be creative but missing the boat completely on flavors

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m
Miami
4 reviews
Dined on November 12, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Great experience

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TL
Philadelphia
2 reviews
Dined on November 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food and service! Enjoyed total experience

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DG
1 review
Dined on November 12, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 2

I had such high hopes for this place, where, out of all the restaurants in SB, I chose to bring my partner to celebrate his birthday. I booked well I’m advance, requested an indoor table. We arrive, asked to wait another 15 minutes- and seated outside in a corner of the patio, heaters blazing hot, table and chairs... dirty. Water brought out to the table- hot. No ice. I request ice. After third request, I get one small glass (for 3 people). Dairy allergies were supposedly accommodated- I ended up with hives!! The beef I ordered was fatty and tasted like a TV dinner, the chicken was dry and bland- yams were cold. Wine glasses were dirty... Food was not brought out together, or even in the same thirty minute span. While we were dining, a couple with a misbehaved dog was sat next to us. I spent the rest of the dinner listening to them correct their dog’s behavior and I had the bonus of smelling the dog’s apparent flatuelence. I’m allergic to dogs as well as dairy. Epic fail. $155 for this failure. I paid $155 for hives and a terrible time!! I felt so bad about the “birthday dinner”, I took my partner out the following night for a “do-over”. Ugh.

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K
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

So good! Get the Brussels sprouts!

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D
1 review
Dined on November 8, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 4

Food was great although portion sizes we're smaller than I expected. And location of where we were seated for a bday celebration was not to my liking. Waiter almost crashed into me...plenty of open tables around me.

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NB
Denver
4 reviews
Dined on November 7, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

It's good but it's all been done. They could use a remodel on the menu to freshen things up

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JS
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I loved The Lark...it's now my favorite Santa Barbara dinner spot. The outdoor seating was really great...really fun ambiance. And the food was to die for. We had the crispy brussel sprouts, the carmelized scallops, and the shortribs. Loved the cocktail menu and they also had really nice wines by the glass. Overall fantastic experience and I can't wait to return. (Oh, and the desserts were incredible, too!!)

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C
Milwaukee
45 reviews
Dined on November 4, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Chestnut pappardelle was extraordinary as was the arugula, squash, burrata salad. A wonderful contemporary farm-to-table establishment in a hip environment.

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c
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our first time dining. The food was amazing. Staff was very helpful and attentive. Drinks were delicious. Definitely will come here again when in the area.

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CB
1 review
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I’ve been here several times but our meal here this visit was perfect. The only drawback was that we had a later reservation and the table beside us was a little rowdy. The server realized the mismatch between our casual family dinner and the rowdy girls night out beside us and brought us the other 1/2 of the bottle of wine we had purchased on the house, even though we were fine and not complaining. I’ve been here with different size parties - only 2, my family of 4, and a work group of about 8. The family style dining was weird with co-workers. But it is perfect for my family of 4 because we can order and taste various dishes. This time we ordered kale and squash salad, toast with burrata and a type of salami, pork belly, and the chicken. The food was really amazing. One thing I love about this place is that the vegetables are not just a side dish for meat, but really the star of the show. The toasts each had a smoked cherry tomato which my son ate first and let us all know that the tomato tasted like campfire. I loved the chicken, which we would not have ordered if not for having our family there because of both the size of the plate and not being the most exciting dish on the menu, but the chicken and the vegetables it was served with: carrots and sweet potatoes, were excellent. It was a perfect meal, just wish we had room for dessert.

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MM
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 3

If you like lots of salt, lots of spice, and lots of noise, this place is for you. The evening got off to a great start with the popcorn. Savory and sweet, it whetted our appetite. Unfortunately, nothing after that did. While our waiter was wonderful, he was running around the room like crazy. I don't know if they were short handed that night, but it sure seemed so. But he was very helpful. The main problem was the food. First course, heirloom tomato salad with avocado mousse and cheese. Good, but covered with shisto peppers and another very hot variety. The delicate tomato/avocado salad was overwhelmed. But, not a bad dish. Then came the pimento cheese plate. The pimento cheese was so spicy (as were the vegetables) I couldn't eat it. Ham was good but that's all I could eat. To the waiters credit, he noticed that a d brought me the branzino rilletes. Good catch but the chips that came with it were so salty, they were inedible. Again, the editor tried, brought us bread, but the fish was also salty. Finally we got the diver scallops with crab butter. Scallops were okay, crab butter was good but scant. There were semi crunchy parsnips with it a d hidden away, slice raw jalapenos. The whole dish was salty, bland, and the overwhelmed by the spice. All in all, very disappointing for the price. Noise level was painful. I expected a lot from this place and it didn't deliver.

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O
Seattle
4 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Loved our meal! Great unique flavors - very tasty! Can’t wait to return!

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SO
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on November 2, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

This is a great restaurant and the food is creative and changing. The service has taken a little step down from what it was a couple years ago. Still, fairly good, but not what it was.
I requested outside seating on the reservation comment but they didn't save a table for me outside and said it would be 30-40 min wait. They tried and were very nice, but still a little disappointing.

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F
Central Coast
11 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Our only major criticism has to do with server's general insistence on "curating" our dining experience. This occurs every time we go to the Lark and is something that people joke about in the local community. Luckily the servers are also pleasant so it's hard to take great offense though on other hand it's irritating to have to worry about hurting their "feelings".

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y
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious food! Great service with a wonderful setting. Will be back!

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H
Los Angeles
7 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The Lark is tucked away, off a side street in the warehouse district near the ocean in Santa Barbara near State St. There's much needed complementary valet parking. Once entering the restaurant, it felt almost like New Orleans... I expected to see fire flies. Nice lighting/outdoor seating - a little on the rustic side. Service was fantastic. Food was creative - they suggested ordering family style (sharing plates/ you have the opportunity to try more). We tried brussel sprouts w/ dates...; pork belly w/ watermelon, fennel, and broccoli; and roasted cast iron sun chokes. Talk about comfort food... yee gads! Plates all looked small but carried a wallup - we were stuffed. They were all terrific. Next time I'd order something lighter (green salad) to go with one these rustic dishes. We were fools and didn't quit there... we tried dessert. All sounded fantastic; we went with pumpkin fitters with crusted cinnamon ice cream topped with warm caramel and goat milk cheese cake topped with fresh apples and homemade cider. OMG!! We crawled home. They also have a beautiful bar with a great selection of spirits. We're gin drinkers and they had many we'd never tried. Loved the whole experience.

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EF
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 1, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our party of 7 really enjoyed our evening at The Lark. Our waiter was very helpful. The food was delicious and there was a good option for the gluten free vegan.
Our only grumble would be that the wine list is way over-priced.

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f
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on November 1, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

EVERYONE WE SPOKE TO RECOMMENDED EATING AT THE LARK. I WAS A BIT DISSAPPOINTED WITH THEIR MENU. I AM NOT A PICKY EATER BUT ONLY FOUND 2 ENTREES I WAS EVEN WILLING TO TRY. THERE IS NOT MUCH OF A SELECTION ON THE MENU. I REALIZE THE LARK USES FRESH, LOCAL INGREDIENTS BUT THE MEAL WE HAD WAS FINE BUT NOT ANYTHING TO GET EXCITED ABOUT. PRICEY TOO.

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RL
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on October 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We really enjoyed our dinner at Lark in Santa Barbara. It was recommended to us by friends who live locally and love it - they were right to suggest we go there. The food was sensational - designed to be shared - and our waitress made some suggestions as to how much of each different type (starter, mid-size and main) to go for. We had the fabulously done Brussels sprouts (starter size), then an amazing kale salad (mid-size) - both much more tasty and enjoyable than you might think frown the way I’ve described them, the mix of ingredients providing two wonderful taste sensations! - and a pork belly main along with the most gorgeous slow cooked prime rib. I selected a bottle of red from the extensive list, which our waitress knew enough about to reassure me it was going to be fine - and it was great.

The four dishes were ample for the three of us - we could have had a second starter or mid-size dish but reasoned that if we were still hungry we could always order more - or go for dessert (we didn’t as we were fine!)

All in all, a great experience

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J
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined on October 29, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 3

Poorly run restaurant.

Server stopped by our table to greet us then got stuck with a big party 15 feet from us. He failed to communicate that he was going to be busy and left us alone for 14 minutes without even taking our drink orders or letting someone else know so that they can take our drink orders.

For what they charge for food, I expected better service.

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TD
New England
2 reviews
Dined on October 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Visiting the area from the East Coast. This was our "splurge" meal and it did not disappoint. We had dinner on the patio which was very comfy with heaters. Service is family style so we shared every dish. Roasted sunchokes were tasty. Crispy Kurobuta Pork Belly and California Lamb Ribs were outrageous! Seared Hawaiian Ahi Tuna - my wife and daughter loved it - I thought it was good but was missing something to bring flavors together. For dessert we had Harvest Pumpkin Fritters which were fabulous and a very good Espresso Ice Cream Sandwich. Service was excellent - friendly and knowledgeable server. Dishes were spaced out nicely - neither too short or too long a wait between courses. A great meal and experience - well worth going!

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OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on October 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing menu! Great ambiance. One of the best restaurants in southern CA!

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CH
1 review
Dined on October 28, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Literally the worst dining experience I’ve ever had and I brought my mother in for her birthday. I don’t write yelp reviews but I will for this because it was unacceptable.
Service was absolutely terrible, he ignored us the entire time and made no effort to make up for the meal which was literally the worst meal I’ve had maybe ever. I am so disappointed. I had been to the lark before and it was good.
Food was so salty it was inedible we sent three dishes back. Then our server brought our main dish 45 minutes after they took our apps away, and it was cold and raw lamb. I wouldn’t recommend this place to anyone. It was terrible.

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OT
Los Angeles
65 reviews
Dined on October 28, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 4

Food was great as usual. Interesting combination of ingredients that somehow work together. My wife and I shared Brussels Sprouts (best I’ve ever had...and I don’t normally like Brussels Sprouts). We shared the Heirloom Tomato Salad and Shortribs. Both were excellent with many surprising flavors.

On the other hand, the service was spotty. It started with a Cosmo ordered with no citrus arriving with a big lime slice. The first course came out too quickly and we hadn’t had time to enjoy our cocktail. They were already preparing our salad when we asked our waiter to slow it down. From my perspective, a 5 star restaurant paces your meal to allow you to savor the food, drink and ambiance while making it a destination worth the price.

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m
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 5

Bartender was a little rude and server kept leaving to say he had to go get something for someone else but the food was amazing.

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OT
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on October 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great meal! A table at The Lark is a must do whenever we’re visiting from Philadelphia...

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YY
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Loved the Lark! Every dish was a standout. The wedge salad was little gems with pecans & tons of blue cheese, the charred Brussels sprouts sported date slices (trust me, it worked), the octopus was oh-so tender& the lamb ribs were to die for. Sadly, no room for dessert. Hope to come back on our next visit to SB.

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SS
Chicago
6 reviews
Dined on October 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

It was fabulous! We have already recommended it to 2 other people this week.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was lovely

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E
Los Angeles
11 reviews
Dined on October 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is sooo innovative. They mix flavors you would never think of combing. Service is excellent.

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EU
Seattle
1 review
Dined on October 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Had a fantastic dinner at the Lark - it was a cooler evening, but they had outdoor heaters that made it comfortable to enjoy dining Outdoors. We ordered two apps (porchetta toast and heirloom tomato salad) and the scallops entree, which was plenty for two hungry adults. The scallops were one of the most memorable dinners we’ve had - full of unexpected but delicious flavor. Highly recommend!

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SK
Seattle
7 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2018
Overall 1food 2service 3ambience 3

Octopus was over cooked, forgot to deliver coffee after dinner, overcharged price of wine on bill.

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MN
New York Area
10 reviews
Dined on October 20, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Overall good. Apps and smaller plates were tasty. Loved the Brussels sprouts and pork loin. Thought the seared ahi tuna was just ok - thought it was a bit strange in the broth as it was more soup like. Dish was too small to split. Server very knowledgeable. Overall was enjoyable. They pushed more dish sharing and we would have preferred more single individual non sharing for the mains.

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ZB
Seattle
1 review
Dined on October 20, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

From start to finish our evening was amazing. The scallops were out of this world!

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BB
Minneapolis
9 reviews
Dined on October 19, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Very pleasant, lively spot with a good range on menu.

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Tweets by The Lark - Santa Barbara